Pedro Munhoz had a roller-coaster few days.
The bantamweight veteran has been under the microscope since his UFC 276 fight against Sean O’Malley ended in a disappointing no contest due to an accidental eye poke suffered by Munhoz early in the second round. Despite winning the opening round on the scorecards and being ahead at the time of the foul, Munhoz has faced intense scrutiny since the bout, with O’Malley and many fans accusing him of looking for a way out.
As it turns out, Munhoz was indeed injured. He suffered an abrasion on his right cornea and even resorted to posting his medical report from the hospital in order to clear his name. And considering his well-earned reputation as one of the gamest fighters in the bantamweight division, he’s been disappointed by how O’Malley handled the situation.
“A lot of his actions after the fight were things that I don’t think is right, based on my values,” Munhoz said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “Like he came and apologized to me, and then he go and go make a video on TikTok, make fun of my vision there. So you apologize to me for poking me [then do that]? Because he realized, he came up to me, like, ‘I didn’t mean to poke you in the eye.’ I say, ‘I know you didn’t mean to poke me in the eye.’ I say, ‘We can run these back anytime,’ and he said, ‘You’re a legend.’ I say thank you, and then I told his coach [Tim Welch] and he was very nice to me, and he says, ‘Let’s run this back.’ I said, ‘Let’s run this back.’
“But then you go make fun [of it]? That’s kind of like things that I tell my kids not to do it. You say one thing but then you go make fun on the other hand. I came up to a generation, like the one before his generation ... I’m not going to go and make of someone just to get more followers and stuff like that. And besides that, all his friends, all these guy texting me, talking about my wife, talking about my family, saying that they’re going to fight me. And guess what? I told them, I say, ‘You can find me. I’ll be by the pool here Sunday.’
“They’re gangsters on computers. ... So that’s the type stuff that I say I don’t agree with, and that was something that was new for me — fighting some kid from a generation that makes these shows look like a circus. When I grew up watching B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo, fought of all these guys, Dominick Cruz, and now I just feel that I was in the circus.”
O’Malley was incredulous in his post-fight media availability at both the outcome of the bout and the fact that two of the three judges had Munhoz ahead at the time of the foul. He claimed that he was dominating the fight and said that Munhoz “100 percent” was looking for an easy way out. He then doubled down with numerous posts on social media.
Munhoz’s weekend was quite different. The 35-year-old said he was transported to the hospital post-fight and wasn’t able to open his right eye for 25 minutes. He said doctors ultimately treated him with eye drops often used to numb eyes with pieces of glass stuck in them after car accidents, and that even once his right eye was open, all he could see was “a black fog.” Munhoz is expected to go in for a follow-up appointment on Tuesday. Four days after the incident, he said his vision still isn’t back to 100 percent.
“Today, I’m able to open my eyes, as you can see, and I see ... very clear in the middle, but in both extremes I still see super dark and not clear, like blurry-eyed,” Munhoz said.
Munhoz also clarified a misconception that it was his left eye that suffered the injury, which stemmed from an Instagram post he made in Portuguese after UFC 276. In it, his left eye was swollen shut, however he said that was simply because he accidentally blew his nose once he got back to his hotel. He said he noted that his right eye was the one giving him problems in the post, but that the detail wound up getting lost in translation.
But it’s the criticism he’s received from other fighters that surprised Munhoz the most. The Brazilian veteran has been in wars with many of the greats of his era, going toe-to-toe with names like Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz, Frankie Edgar, Cody Garbrandt, and current UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. Munhoz built a reputation for being one of the toughest fighters at 135 pounds, so he’s baffled why people would assume he would look for a way out against the least decorated opponent he’s fought in the past four years.
“I’m being blamed for something that, I didn’t do it,” Munhoz said. “I was in the fight, I was going forward attacking him.
“For me, chasing me, he does that move [pointing his fingers outstretched], and so I get blamed for something that he did, you know? And all of a sudden, I want out? That doesn’t make any sense. And when people say something, the opposite, is just shows like how many stupid people are out there, and ignorant, a bunch of haters. If they are fighters, they probably got poked in the gym before in training. I did. But in that sense, to cut my cornea, was the first time. So I think people that will judge, they see a situation like that, but [they’re] not putting [themselves in] my shoes. They’re just ignorant.
“I was in the fight 100 percent, I was winning on the scorecards, I was super comfortable,” Munhoz added. “I was able to break him down in the first round, which is the round that he goes the strongest. Second and third, we know that he’s starting going down, and that’s my strongest round. Five-round fight, I would probably eat him alive.”
Munhoz added that he is ready and willing to do a rematch with O’Malley as soon as his eye is medically cleared, although he’s unsure if O’Malley is willing to do the same.
“I don’t have to prove anything,” Munhoz said. “At the end of the day, it’s my eye in the game. I proved my reputation the sport many times. Look all these battles that I went through. Jose Aldo kneed me right in the face in the second round, clear, boom — that was the middle of the second round, I stayed strong that second round, went to the third round toe-to-toe with one of the best of all-time. And his punches just compared to Sean O’Malley, it’s kind of like a kid.
“Even Jose Aldo texted me yesterday, he’s like, ‘Bro, we all know that you’re tough. You should not post that [medical report]. You should not prove anything to anybody.’ ... Like I said, I’ve been in so many battles before [with legendary] guys, and literally going there fighting Sean O’Malley and seeing all that I was facing was nothing more [than] hype, and now my theory has been solved, and I just felt that I’d say it’s right here for the people that doubt and they still believe. I know you guys are going to still not believe in that, but here, so I’m doing anything to avoid this fight. That’s what really happened that day.”